Northern Great Plains

Visit to the Northern Great Plains

Visit to the Northern Great Plains

Last month, I traveled to South Dakota with to meet up with the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Northern Great Plains Advisory Committee, of which I’m a member, and whose projects we help fund. These meetings always remind one of the fragility of these magnificent grasslands.

The Northern Great Plains is an area of more than 180 million acres in the US states of Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska, as well as the two Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Northern Great Plains are under constant threat of conversion to croplands. In 2017 more than half a million acres of grasslands were lost to cropland. The grasslands are important because they are natural habitats to many species, birds, bison, the black-footed ferret, the swift fox, and many others. Grasslands protect water quality and limit flooding for downstream communities and it is vital that we protect them!

One aspect of WWF’s Northern Great Plains Project is their sustainable ranching initiative. When properly managed, cattle and bison can have conservation benefits, as grazing maintains the health of grasslands, improves the quality of the soil and keeps the land as a possible wildlife habitat, instead of turning it into cropland. WWF has been working with ranchers throughout the Northern Great Plains region to develop more holistic practices in ranching. We had a wonderful dinner out in the plains with some of the ranchers.

Along with Silverback Productions, WWF created a new Netflix documentary series called Our Planet, now streaming on their platform. In episode 5 “From Deserts to Grasslands” you can see the Northern Great Plains in all of its glory, and peril.

It’s never been more urgent and important to recognize the fragility of our world. We’re losing nature at an unprecedented rate. Sixty percent of vertebrate species have disappeared in the last 50 years. The health of our forests, oceans and fresh water are all at risk. Nature isn’t something we can choose to care about. It’s vital to our very existence and our future. Our homes, our health, the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink—our lives and all the things we care about—simply can’t exist in a world without nature. Today, we can see the impact of our actions on our planet. We also have the opportunity to change course and solve these problems. WWF exists to protect nature and to build a better future for wildlife and people. Our Planet helps bring WWF’s urgent mission to people around the world. We can begin a better future for our planet. But we can’t do it alone.
— World Wildlife Fund
Monica Terkildsen, Tribal Community Liason, WWF-US, talking to our group about the Badlands.

Monica Terkildsen, Tribal Community Liason, WWF-US, talking to our group about the Badlands.

Northern Great Plains

Monika
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Monica Terkildsen (standing next to the buffalo sculpture), is an Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge. Jonny Bearcub Stiffarm, is an enrolled member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Nation, and the Fort Peck Buffalo Administrator.


WWW is pleased to be able to support these incredible women leaders in their conservation activities on the Northern Great Plains. It is vitaly important for the Tribes to be able to have buffalo back on their lands. The animals are their lives, spiritually and economically.

Black Footed Ferret

The Northern Great Plains are – the “Serengeti of North America”. WorldWomenWork has been supporting the efforts of WWF in this region focused primarily on local tribal women in conservation, bison rangelands, and black-footed ferret recovery sites, public agencies, and tribal nations to ensure that the richness of the prairie ecosystem is sustained for future generations.

-From 2015 to 2016, 2.5 million acres were lost to crop production across the Great Plains.

-WWF estimates that keeping 25 million acres of grasslands intact could prevent 1.7 trillion gallons of water, along with tons of sediment and fertilizer—from washing into rivers, streams, lakes, and, ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico.

-Six songbird species that are only found in the Great Plains continue to be in perilous decline. Populations have declined by as much as 65-94% since the 1960s.

-Since 2009, nearly 8 percent of the landscape has been plowed for crops, leaving about 54 percent of the Great Plains grasslands intact.

The awesome fact that we compare the Northern Great Pains to the Serengeti is troubling indeed. Every place is confronted by the loss of species and human encroachment on wild places, We can only involve ourselves by supporting those who work in the field trying with every ounce of energy to somehow stop this ravaging of the natural world.

You are WorldWomenWork. Without your support we would not exist. We need you more than ever as the wildworld and it's guardians are under attack as never before.

Northern Great Plains: Black-Footed Ferret Is Making A Comeback

Northern Great Plains Black Footed Ferret Making a comeback

The black-footed ferret is making a comeback. But we still have a long way to go!


In the last 30 years, this sweet little animal has come back from an assumed extinction to a population in the 300s. Conservationists have worked diligently to protect and support these little creatures in the Northern Great Plains region of the United States. Sadly, this fight is not over yet. The black-footed ferret is still one of the most endangered mammals in North America.

WorldWomenWork is supporting this recovery effort through the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Northern Great Plains Project, which focuses on ferret repopulation through engaging local ranching communities, public agencies, and tribal nations to ensure that the richness of the prairie ecosystem is sustained for future generations.

Through the WWF, WorldWomenWork specifically provides funds for identifying and establishing new ferret reintroduction sites, providing maintenance to existing ferret populations, and supporting disease prevention. Protection from the plague and ample reintroduction sites remain the largest obstacles to ferret recovery.

As you may know, I am a member of the volunteer advisory committee at WWF’s Northern Great Plains program “the Serengeti of North America”. WorldWomenWork has been supporting the efforts in this region focused primarily on local tribal women in conservation, bison rangelands, and black-footed ferret recovery. Our advisory committee has collectively created a matching gift challenge that WorldWomenWork is honored to be part of to help leverage the impact of gifts to this important work.

Northern Great Plains Black Footed Ferret Making a comeback
Northern Great Plains Black Footed Ferret Making a comeback